John Howard Society of Durham Region
Mission: To reduce the impact of crime and its causes by providing a spectrum of effective prevention and intervention programs.
Main office: 905-579-8482, 75 Richmond Street West, Oshawa, Ontario, L1G 1E3

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Construction Program Prepares Workers for Careers:

Provincial program leads to apprenticeships

Apr 3, 2006
By Blake Wolfe, Special to This Week

DURHAM -- This spring, 15 lucky applicants from across Durham Region will learn the skills they need to obtain a career in the field of construction.

The Construction Craft Worker Pre-Apprenticeship Program, in its inaugural year, will allow prospective construction employees to learn a variety of skills over the course of eight weeks, qualifying them for a wide range of careers. The program is being run by the John Howard Society in Durham Region. Derrick McKay, project counsellor for the organization, said that he was overwhelmed with the response he received about the program. The 15 participants in the program were chosen from a list of 160 applicants.

"We put one ad in the paper," Mr. McKay said. "Word spread pretty quickly. Our phone was ringing non-stop."

According to Mr. McKay, the average age of the 15 participants is 24. Although hoping to attract a younger demographic, Mr. McKay found that many of the young applicants were not interested in what the program has to offer.

"We were hoping to target a much younger age group," he said, "but they just weren't interested in working."

The program, operating out of the Local 183 union's Life Long Learning Centre in Cobourg, will teach the participants skills ranging from tool operation to foundation work, inside the facility's indoor construction site. In addition to construction skills, the program will also teach additional skills, such as CPR training.

"It's pretty diverse," Mr. McKay said.

Although the ages of the participants range from 18 to 37, Mr. McKay has noticed that all of them share a common desire to work in a hands-on environment, outside of the classroom.

"They've all done things like build decks in their spare time," he said, adding that some of the participants have even helped out with light construction at the John Howard Society's Bowmanville building.

Among the participants is Penny Cassidy. Ms. Cassidy, 30, who has experience repairing and maintaining small engines, replied to the ad in hopes of securing a Level 1 Construction Craft Worker apprenticeship. The program offers a 12-week apprenticeship upon successful completion.

"I hope it's fun and educational at the same time," Ms. Cassidy said. "Hopefully it leads to a good career."

According to Mr. McKay, the program was created by the provincial Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to address the lack of employees in the skilled trades sector. The title of Construction Craft Worker replaced Construction Labourer as a trade in 2001